New Jersey Criminal Mischief

We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3; New Jersey criminal mischief complaints filed in central New Jersey municipalities including East Brunswick, New Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, Old Bridge, North Brunswick, South Brunswick, South River, Monroe and Sayreville.

New Jersey Criminal mischief law, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3, is violated if a defendant purposely or knowingly damages tangible property of another or if a defendant purposely or recklessly - conscious disregard of a substantial risk of danger to the other person or property - tampers with another person's tangible - physical / real - property so as to endanger the person or property.

Criminal mischief is also committed if a defendant recklessly or negligently damages another person's property in the employment of fire, explosives, or other dangerous means.

New Jersey criminal mischief prohibitions extend to damaging or tampering with another person's property.

The law is only concerned with tangible property and not intangible property like a contract, for example.

Hence, in order for a violation to be committed actual damage to property of another must be committed.

This is a disorderly persons offense unless defendant causes a loss greater than $500, in which case it is an indictable crime.

It is a third degree crime if the defendant acts either purposely or knowingly and causes $2,000.00 or more in damage; or a substantial interruption of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power or public service; or causes the loss or damage of any research property used by a research facility; or if defendant tampers with a grave or other site where human remains are stored, although the state must prove a "purpose" to desecrate, destroy or steal such human remains.

In addition, it is a fourth degree crime if the defendant causes damages in excess of $500.00 but less than $2,000.00; or damages, removes or impairs the operation of any device including but not limited to a sign, signal, light or other equipment, which serves to regulate or ensure the safety of air traffic at any airport or other aviation facility.

However, this crime is elevated to third degree if bodily injury is caused as a result of its commission; and this crime is elevated to second degree if death is caused as a result of its commission, although the state will have to prove that defendant acted recklessly.

We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3; New Jersey criminal mischief indictments filed in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Union County, and Hudson County.

Exposure to Disorderly Persons Offense Only

A person convicted of this offense is subject to a fine of up to $1000 plus assessments to Victims of Crime Compensation Board and to the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund of approximately $125.

Although a person convicted of this offense who has not been previously convicted of an offense is entitled to a presumption of non-incarceration, defendant may be sentenced up to six months in jail.

If a motor vehicle was used in the course of committing the offense, the court may suspend the defendant's driver's license up to two years.

If the defendant holds a public office, a conviction may result in forfeiture of office.

Expungement for Disorderly Persons Offense Only

Provided defendant has not been convicted of more than three disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses, or defendant has not been convicted of an indictable offense, he or she may have their conviction expunged five years after sentence is carried out.

Statute of Limitations for Disorderly Persons Offense Only

Prosecution must be commenced within 1 year after the offense is committed.

Prosecution commences when a warrant or other process such as a summons or complaint is issued.

Strategy for Disorderly Persons Offense Only

The best case result for any type of charge is dismissal - no record and no fine - although more often than not it is not possible to procure such a favorable result for this offense.

If a dismissal is not attainable then the next best possible outcome would be a plea to a municipal ordinance, which will preclude one from sustaining the stigma that an offense attaches to one's record.

However, defendant will be fined by the Court, although fines for municipal ordinances are lower than are fines for disorderly persons offenses.

If at all possible, restitution should be made before sentencing as it would serve as a powerful mitigating factor before the Judge at sentencing, especially in cases involving graffiti.

New Jersey Criminal mischief is a lesser offense of burglary.

If you have any questions for a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer about a New Jersey Criminal Mischief charge, please do not hesitate to contact us.